“Doctor, I need your advice on how to get rid of the leg cramps that I experience at night. What would you recommend?” – By Dr harold Gunatillake

“Doctor, I need your advice on how to get rid of the leg cramps that I experience at night. What would you recommend?” – By Dr harold Gunatillake


There is no evidence that magnesium supplements are beneficial for leg cramps, except for pregnancy-related ones, despite suggestions that magnesium deficiency may cause them.

Let’s define what leg cramps are. They are painful and cannot be controlled voluntarily. Calf muscle contractions lasting for a few seconds to minutes disturb your sleep. Leg cramps are reported in up to 60% of adults and 7% of children. They are troublesome and can cause severe pain and sleep disturbance, and residual pain sometimes occurs in the affected muscles after cramping.

Leg cramps can also happen while rapidly walking, playing sports, or exercising in the gym. They can affect your general quality of life. Certain drugs can cause cramps as a side effect. They include

Cholesterol-lowering medications such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), simvastatin (Zocor), and rosuvastatin (Cresto).

Potassium-sparing diuretics like spironolactone can give rise to cramps when taken long-term.

Diuretics like thiazides can cause cramps. Conjugated estrogens like Premarin given for hot flashes, osteoporosis, and breast cancer can cause cramps.

Unfortunately, the specific cause of leg cramps at night has yet to be proven.In most situations, no medication is required; just stretching your muscles until the cramp disappears works. In the case of calf muscles, dorsiflex your foot and hold; within seconds, the cramp may go off.

Stretching the affected muscles may occasionally relieve these cramps, but sometimes other treatments are needed. Some medications may help, and other supportive options — such as massages and sports drinks — are also available. Your doctor will perform lab tests on your blood to check whether you have any deficiencies in micronutrients, including minerals.

Muscle fatigue can cause cramps, especially when seated or standing in one position for long hours.

Nerve dysfunctions and electrolyte imbalances involving low levels of magnesium, potassium or calcium can give rise to cramps any time of the day or night.

You could get cramps due to reduced blood circulation due to diseases of the blood vessels. Cirrhosis and pregnancy are also causes, too.

Raloxifene (Evista) medication given for osteoporosis can cause cramps.

You should be aware of a few more medications that can give rise to cramps. Certain chronic diseases can give rise to night cramps. They include- coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, varicose veins, kidney disease, metabolic disorders like diabetes and hypothyroidism.

Muscle and joint conditions, including arthritis, can cause cramps.

Neurological conditions like peripheral neuropathy and hereditary cramp syndromes can also cause cramps.

Chronic alcohol abuse is a common cause, too.

You need to drink adequate water and take certain electrolytes to prevent cramps, especially if you are athletic.

People who take vitamin B complex, magnesium supplements, calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure, and a few other medications have no firm evidence of their effectiveness in treating leg cramps at night.

Magnesium is widely used to treat leg cramps, particularly in Latin America and Europe. However, almost all of the many clinical studies of magnesium treatment for cramps found it ineffective.

Patients must not take magnesium supplements if they have kidney disease or are older due to the collection in the blood, referred to as hypermagnesaemia.

Quinine, a medication for treating malaria, has some supporting evidence for treating leg cramps at night. Quinine has been commonly used to treat leg cramps.

Still, TGA approval for this indication was withdrawn in 2004 after reports of an increased risk of thrombocytopenia and four associated fatalities in Australia.

Although no specific cramp treatments exist, several exercises and other medication- free options may help relieve the cramps.

These can include, Walking daily as a routine. Stretching the affected legs before walks and exercise Applying heat to the affected area or sleeping under warm electric beds

Taking a hot shower Riding a stationary bicycle — is available — for a few minutes Staying hydrated, especially after exercise Avoiding smoking.

I hope this video article speaks the truth regarding the methods available for relieving leg cramps. Stretching the cramping muscle may be the best immediate solution.

Please stay safe and in good health until we meet again. Goodbye for now.

Using traditional/herbal medications for leg cramps increase the risk of unintentional doping. It is important to raise awareness among athletes, trainers, pharmacists, and prescribers about these risks.



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